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Residents want a stronger voice to help transform their communities

June 2015

The majority of people want to be more involved in decisions which affect their communities and would like more opportunities to help their neighbours, according to survey results commissioned by the charity Local Trust released today (Wednesday 3 June).

Local Trust’s survey results found that:

  • three quarters of us (76%) think residents are best placed to know what is needed in their community
  • two thirds (63%) are willing to help their neighbours and community if there are opportunities to do so
  • three in five (61%) would like to be given the opportunity to help decide how money from funders is spent.

The findings show that residents have a strong desire to be given more of a say in decisions affecting their community.

Of 2,000 people surveyed[i], three quarters (76%) agree that residents are best placed to know what is needed in their community[ii] and three in five (61%) agree that they would like to be given the opportunity to help decide how funding is spent.[iii] Half (50%) say that they would be more likely to help make their community a better place to live if given more control over decisions about what changes should be made.[iv]

The results show the potential for creating more opportunities for residents to be involved in helping their communities and in harnessing the skills and enthusiasm of residents to create positive change based on what is most needed.

Local Trust manages Big Local, a programme running in 150 communities over 15 years, providing residents in each community with at least £1 million alongside support and other funding to enable them to lead change in their area.

The survey was commissioned to help build a better public understanding of people’s attitudes towards helping in their community and possible incentives for doing so. It coincides with a roundtable discussion at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) being hosted by Local Trust during Volunteers’ Week, exploring new ways in which residents can be supported to transform their communities for the better.

Debbie Ladds, chief executive at Local Trust, said: ‘These findings are encouraging and show that lots of people want to help make their community an even better place to live – from having opportunities to help their neighbours to helping make decisions about how funding is spent. Through Big Local we know that enabling residents to have more control makes a lasting and positive difference to where they live.’

The findings build on research from the first evaluation of the Big Local programme published earlier this year, showing significant enthusiasm for a resident-led approach. Almost three quarters (72%) of active community members in Big Local areas reported a stronger sense of community[v] from being involved and over two thirds (68%) felt more positive about where they live as a result.[vi]

Kevin Peacock, chief executive of St. Andrew's Community Network and chair of the Big Local partnership board in Clubmoor, Liverpool said: ‘In Clubmoor, people have always supported their friends, neighbours and family. They do this naturally, without recognising the contribution they make. We've found that people are also keen to support other local people and make a bigger difference in their community. The problem is that they don't know where to start or feel they can't affect things – so offering people the right opportunities to get involved and create lasting change is really crucial. Our work in Clubmoor is all about getting people engaged, involved and empowered to make a difference. Big Local has helped make this possible.’

Today’s new findings highlight people’s desire to help those living around them, with almost two-thirds (63%) willing to help their neighbours and community[vii] if given the opportunity.

Debbie Ladds continued: ‘From Big Local we know that investing in skills[viii] that exist locally and supporting residents to play a more active role in decision-making is helping to create change that is lasting and effective. People want to make a difference and we need to encourage more policy makers, funders and service providers to help communities harness the benefits of resident-led change.’

A summary of the RSA discussion will be published on the Local Trust website: www.localtrust.org.uk. Attendees represent a cross-section of government, academic, charity and voluntary sectors.

-ENDS-

Forster Communications

Luke Guinness or Ruby Maguire – 0207 403 2230

Email – luke@forster.co.uk / ruby@forster.co.uk

Local Trust / Big Local

Local Trust is a unique organisation supporting resident and community led solutions to create lasting change throughout England. We use a community development approach to resident and community led regeneration of areas. We believe that those who make up the community know best what’s needed and are the most likely to come up with the solutions to make a lasting positive difference to the places where they live, work and socialise. We also believe that we can help them to make that happen, working with a range of partners nationally and locally.

We are the corporate trustee of Big Local Trust, managing the expendable endowment from the Big Lottery Fund and the Big Local programme.

Big Local is an exciting opportunity for residents in 150 areas around England to receive funding and support over 15 years to make a massive and lasting positive difference to their communities. The trust deed that governs Big Local Trust requires spend of £220m by 13 February 2027. Big Local targets areas that may not have been successful in gaining funding and resources in the past. Each Big Local area is receiving at least £1 million over at least 15 years, along with support, training, and networking opportunities, to help residents develop plans to improve their area and to enable them to find solutions that work for their community.

More information is available at www.localtrust.org.uk

For enquiries about Local Trust or Big Local please call 020 3588 0565 or email: info@localtrust.org.uk

Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. It is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery and invests over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes.

Since June 2004 it has awarded over £6.5 billion to projects that make a difference to people and communities in need, from early years intervention to commemorative travel funding for World War Two veterans.

Since the National Lottery began in 1994, £33 billion has been raised and more than 450,000 grants awarded.

Website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

About the Big Local early years evaluation

The evaluation was conducted by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in partnership with the Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR) and the Office for Public Management (OPM). It involved analysis of programme data and reports as well as primary research involving surveys, interviews, observation visits, case studies and workshops with residents in Big Local areas. The research team engaged with almost 400 stakeholders from 90 Big Local areas as well as staff involved in supporting the programme nationally and at the local level.

NCVO is the representative body for civil society organisations across England. For more than 90 years it has worked alongside and supported voluntary and community organisations and it currently supports over 11,000 member organisations.. Its research team specialises in building the evidence base about the activities and effectiveness of civil society. (www.ncvo.org.uk)

IVR is a specialist research and consultancy agency on volunteering with more than two decades’ experience as a leading provider of research on volunteering policy and practice (www.ivr.org.uk). Since 2013 it has been a part of NCVO.

OPM is a not-for-profit consultancy with a 25-year history of conducting research and evaluation alongside other specialist consultancy services for charities, local authorities and government bodies (www.opm.co.uk)


[i] Populus survey carried out with 2000 GB adults between 20 – 22 May 2015.

[ii] 76% of respondents slightly or strongly agreed when asked whether they agreed with the statement: ‘I think residents are best placed to know what is needed in their community’. Populus (May 2015)

[iii] 61% of respondents slightly or strongly agreed when asked whether they agreed with the statement: ‘I would like to be given the opportunity to help decide how money from funders is spent in my community’. Populus (May 2015)

[iv] 50% of respondents slightly or strongly agreed when asked whether they agreed with the statement: ‘I would be more likely to help make my community an even better place to live if I was given more control over decisions about what changes should be made’. Populus (May 2015)

[v] Big Local early years evaluation; Feb 2015 (http://localtrust.org.uk/assets/downloads/documents/Final_report_reduced.pdf)

[vi] Big Local early years evaluation; Feb 2015 (http://localtrust.org.uk/assets/downloads/documents/Final_report_reduced.pdf)

[vii] 63% of respondents slightly or strongly agreed when asked whether they agreed with the statement: ‘I would be willing to help my neighbours and my community if there were opportunities to do so’. Populus (May 2015)

[viii] 85% of Big Local partnership members strongly agree or agree that Big Local has enabled them to put their existing skills to good use. (http://localtrust.org.uk/assets/downloads/documents/Final_report_reduced.pdf)

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